Snow, rain to return to area

CHRISTOPHER TOMLINSON/The Daily Sentinel—Brandon Witham pitches to his 8-year-old son Finn at Suplizio Field in Grand Junction on Sunday as they prepare for Finn’s Little League season. Outdoor activity could be rained out today, with the forecast of a late-winter storm moving through the region. Snow in the mountains will be counted on to alleviate concern over snowpack and drought this summer.

The National Weather Service in Grand Junction said an overnight storm system Sunday into Monday packed potential for 6 to 12 new inches of snow for the mountains of western Colorado, boosting still-lagging snowpack totals for the region.

That same system was expected to bring small amounts of rain, possibly mixed with snow overnight, in the Grand Valley.

Despite some recent gains, snowpack for the Gunnison River Basin — covering Grand Mesa, McClure Pass, Columbine Pass on the Uncompahgre Plateau, Red Mountain and Schofield passes — was running at 76 percent of normal for the year as of Sunday, according to meteorologist Matthew Aleska.

The same area in March 2012 was at approximately 81 percent of normal in Colorado basins, Aleska said.

“There are some areas doing better such as the San Juans and southwest Colorado, but overall it seems to be about the same as last year,” he said. “We’re still in a drought, but hopefully we can get a wet spring.”

The Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center has forecast below-normal precipitation, and above-normal temperatures, for the period of March, April and May.

“After this system coming in, we do have potential for another one for the weekend with some promise of more mountain snowfall.” Aleska said. “It’s going to take a lot to show improvement in drought status.”

Precipitation in Grand Junction, as measured at the Weather Service’s local office at 2844 Aviators Way, was at 1 inch through Sunday, just below normal of 1.17 inches for March 3.

Snowfall for Grand Junction in the current season stands at 20 inches, above the normal rate of 15.7 inches.


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